Chinese Coromandel Screen Restoration
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The photo above is of a fine, old, large Coromandel screen (12 panels, each 1.5 ‘ by 9’). It was taken after I had completed my restoration work.
When I first examined the screen, I was dismayed to see the evidence of so many previous attempts at trying to keep the screen together, and aware of the difficulties I would face in my own efforts.
Apparently, most of the problems were the result of movement of the wood, and deterioration of the ground coating that lies between the wood and the visible lacquer surface. Another obstacle in trying to improve it’s appearance was that various pigmented and clear coatings had been applied in many areas, evidently to disguise losses and discoloration of the original lacquer. These varnish materials being Western in origin (as opposed to Eastern lacquer), their use had only contributed to the screen’s deterioration.
The photos below illustrate some of the problems encountered.
Ultimately, it was all I could do to just consolidate all of the loose areas, and fill/inpaint the losses with appropriate conservation materials.
Consolidation of fragile pieces
Adhesion with light pressure from clamps and sandbags.
By the time I had finished, the screen was definitely more stable, and it’s appearance had improved considerably.